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Bristol Bay, Alaska

Pebble Mine still a frightening possibility

Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska is home to the world's largest salmon run, with all five Eastern Pacific species using the Bay's freshwater tributaries to spawn. There are other fisheries in the area, as well as it being home to moose, caribou and more. The human population depends on wild resources which are also a big part of the region's cultural heritage.

Owners of Pebble Mine want to pull out porphyry copper, gold, and molybdenum in the Bristol Bay region, and large amounts of money have been put toward pre-feasibility studies, including drilling, permitting, environmental studies, community relations, etc. It is the world's largest known undeveloped copper ore body.

Proponents say the mine will create jobs, tax revenue, and reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of raw materials. Opponents say it will adversely impact the entire Bristol Bay watershed. Roads and bridges will cross 20 known salmon streams and other fisheries. The Bay provides sustainable jobs while the mine will eventually die - all mines have limited lifespans.

This is a very brief overview of the issues which have been going on for years now. In 2020, there was continued confusion. In July, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in a final environmental analysis that Pebble mine "would not be expected to have a measurable effect on fish numbers" in the Bristol Bay watershed. In November, they denied a permit for its discharge plan which is mandated in the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act.

Where are we now? According to Businesses for Bristol Bay, www.b4bb.org, it's possible to make the Pebble Mine go away forever by doing two things:

 

  • Reestablish Clean Water Act protections that prohibit large-scale mining in Bristol Bay's pristine headwaters based on the EPA's years of peer-reviewed science.
  • Pass legislation that cements those Clean Water Act protections for Bristol Bay and ensures that those protections can't be reversed in future administrations.

In a January 13, 2021, email, Businesses for Bristol Bay say:

"That's why going into 2021 we're asking all B4BB partners to join Bristol Bay tribes, commercial fishermen, and others by signing the Call to Protect Bristol Bay. Thanks to the many businesses and organizations that have already signed on, including the American Sustainable Business Council, Far Bank Enterprises, First Lite, Grundéns, Houston Safari Club, and James Beard Foundation. Your support will help ensure that Bristol Bay remains a priority for federal agencies like the EPA and members of Congress.

Last Friday, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced that the State of Alaska would appeal the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's decision to deny the Pebble Limited Partnership's permit application. While the State of Alaska cannot legally file an administrative appeal under the regulations, Governor Dunleavy's statement shows his continued commitment to push the Pebble Mine forward despite state and national opposition. The Pebble Limited Partnership has also announced that it would submit an appeal to the Army Corps before the January 24th deadline. Dunleavy and Pebble's recent statements highlight that the threat of the Pebble Mine is not gone and won't be until we establish permanent protections for Bristol Bay.

We won't rest until Bristol Bay gets the permanent protections that it deserves, and we hope that you'll continue to help us advocate for the protection of Bristol Bay's salmon fishery and its future sustainability."

If you want more information about the solution to this issue, updates since this email, or want to support the cause, click here: The Solution | Stop Pebble Mine Now .

stoppebbleminenow.org

www.b4bb.org

salmonstate.org

February 2021


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